The building, housing Ohen Private Nursery and Primary School on its third floor, caved in at about 10:20am, trapping scores of pupils.
The large number of casualties sparked a shortage of blood…
According to Lagos State Emergency management Agency (LASEMA) General Manager Adeshina Tiamiyu, over 41 people were rescued from the rubble of the building, which had been marked for demolition since 2014.
An eyewitness, Abayomi Olaniyan, said he was among those rescuing the victims before the official rescue team came.
Olaniyan, said: “Some were rescued alive, some dead. One of the teachers still called shortly that she was on the ground floor of the collapsed building, trapped with 20 pupils.
“Something similar happened around here last year. The issue of building collapse is common here and government must do something about it. Houses will be marked and due for demolition but they will not demolish it; they will renovate it. So many houses here are weak; they are meant to be demolished but they will tell you they are renovating it; they will only paint it.”
An eyewitness, Bola Ogunyemi, said: “The pupils were already lined up from their third floor classes when the school owner noticed that the building was cracking. Before the kids could be arranged from their classes, the building had collapsed”. The school owner and some kids have been taken to the hospital.”
Some youths who are resident in the area were complaining that the rescue efforts were slow. Since they were told to leave the scene, nobody was removed for about 30 minutes, they said at about 5p.m.
The officers and LASEMA officials, the boys said, were not doing enough. Some of the boys were recalled to the scene.
The school owner was among the first casualties. She was taken to the General Hospital, where she died after efforts by the medicals to save her proved abortive.
A distraught mother of two victims urged the rescuers to help bring out her son, Luqman, from the rubble. The woman’s daughter, Tobi, had earlier been rescued.
Among the victims is a woman, who called her brother that she was still trapped. She told her brother that the caterpillar was on their floor, pleading that it should be moved back
“I am under the caterpillar. Help tell the driver to move back,” the victim under the rubble told her troubled brother.
An expectant woman was among those that were pulled out of the rubble alive. A man, who was trapped in the building, was said to have come home to eat. He was yet to be rescued as at press time.
A man, Bashiru Alagbala, who came to visit his wife, was brought out dead.
A family of four – father, mother, son and grandson – was also trapped. Father, mother and grandson were rescued but the son was said to be still under the rubble.
A source told The Nation that one of the dead was a pupil, who turned 10 yesterday.
The source said: “Today (yesterday) is his birthday and it is unfortunate that he died today. I learnt that he told his mother that he did not want to go to school today (yesterday). His mother must have seen him as a lazy boy. Sometimes, these little children see what we adults do not see. His mother should have talked about why he did not want to go to school, but I learnt his mother forced him to go and he died. She must be regretting that now.”
Another source said a pair of twin brothers was also trapped in the building. One was said to have died; the other was rescued alive with serious injuries.
A woman, who refused to be named, said her daughter, Azeezat, was still trapped in the rubble. She said she had been to all the hospitals but did not find her.
A former teacher in the school, Bukola Salami, said the building had been shaking since last year.
“I worked in the school for six months and I resigned last December because the building was shaking. When I was in the school, I used to hear sounds as if someone was throwing stones from the walls. The building cracks and the walls shake at times. I told the school owner about my observations, I told her to relocate the school elsewhere, but she said there was no money for the school to be relocated. I resigned last year because of the fear that someday the building might collapse.”
Where are the victims?
A nurse at Massey Street Children Hospital, Lagos Island, told The Nation that some of the victims brought to the hospital were given first aid and transferred to other hospitals for proper medical care.
The Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Titi Gonclaves, told reporters at the Lagos Island General Hospital that five of the 20 early casualties were transferred to other hospitals after being attended to.
At the entrance of the hospital was pasted 41 names of the stable survivors: 22 females, 17 males. Two were unidentified.
Crowd hampered rescue, says Health Commissioner
Commissioner for Health Jide Idris confirmed the casualty figures of 18 deaths and 41 injured.
He lamented that the large number of spectators slowed down rescue efforts and he could not give a definite casualty figure until today.
The medical teams have done their best. It would have been done better and faster but for the crowd.